By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Park Slope residents are already seeing parts of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” pedestrian safety plan in action, according to Councilman Brad Lander, who said a recent sting by police resulted in summonses for dangerous motorists.
Lander said that during a two-day period, Jan. 23-24, the 78th Precinct handed out 16 summonses to drivers for failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
The summonses came as a result of a “failure-to-yield” sting the cops conducted.
Drivers are required by law to yield to pedestrians who are crossing with a walk signal, within the crosswalk. Failure to do so is the leading cause of pedestrian injuries on New York City streets, Lander said.
Forty-four percent of pedestrians injured in auto crashes are walking within the crosswalk, with a walk signal, he said. When pedestrians are killed or seriously injured, the driver has failed to yield 27 percent of the time, he added.
“Drivers should know that the next pedestrian you fail to yield to may be an undercover cop,” Lander said. “Failure-to-yield is the top cause of pedestrian injuries. Deputy Inspector Michael Ameri and the 78th Precinct are showing how the NYPD can be a leader in making Vision Zero a reality.”
In 2013, Lander hosted a roundtable with the 78th Precinct and community leaders to discuss pedestrian safety hotspots and initiatives to improve safety.
Last week, cops conducted stings at intersections around Park Slope. An undercover police officer walked through intersections and another officer stopped and issued summonses to drivers who failed to yield.
The Park Slope Street Safety Partnership, a coalition of community members, neighborhood organizations, and government partners working to curb traffic crashes in the neighborhood, met for the first time in December.
Officials from the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) attended the kickoff meeting, along with hundreds of local residents and representatives of the 78th Precinct. The partnership is currently formulating new steps to improve neighborhood traffic safety.
“Failure to yield to pedestrians is a significant cause of serious injury and death in traffic crashes,” said Eric McClure, organizer of Park Slope Neighbors and chairman of thePark Slope Street Safety Partnership. “It’s great to see the 78th Precinct taking the initiative to enforce against this dangerous driving behavior. Drivers who persist in putting pedestrians at risk should be prepared for the consequences.”
“Educating both pedestrians and drivers about failure-to-yield can help save lives in Park Slope,” said Susan Fox, founder of the group Park Slope Parents.
Michael Cairl, president of the Park Slope Civic Council, praised the increased traffic enforcement by police. “Safer streets will come about with engineering, education, and enforcement all working together,’ he said.
The mayor has made reducing fatal traffic accidents a priority, announcing earlier this month that his plan, called “Vision Zero,” is aimed at reducing the number of fatal accidents to zero by 2024.
The mayor formed a task force of comprised of representatives of several city agencies, including the NYPD and DOT, to look at both long-term and immediate solutions and to issue a list of recommendations by the spring.
Police Commissioner William Bratton took immediate action by has increasing the number of officers responsible for enforcing traffic laws.
The results in Park Slope are promising, according to community leaders and transportation experts.
“We commend the 78th Precinct for issuing more summonses to drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks,” said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. “We need more enforcement actions like this around the five boroughs to make it clear that New York City is on the path to achieve Mayor de Blasio's goal of ‘Vision Zero.’ Failure to Yield is among the most deadly traffic violations, along with speeding and distracted driving. Residents of communities around the city are demanding better enforcement and more thorough crash investigations, a 20mph speed limit, and the redesign of the most dangerous corridors and intersections.”
“Council Member Lander's enforcement roundtable held last year is clearly paying safety dividends,” said Ryan Lynch, associate director for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, who lives in Park Slope. “Reckless driving is a threat to all users of the road, but pedestrians are particularly vulnerable. From 2010-2012 alone, four pedestrians were killed in the 78th district, a number that does not include the tragic death of Sammy Cohen-Eckstein killed last year on Prospect Park West. Police crackdowns on dangerous driving behavior must be more than periodic stings, and part of regular law enforcement moving forward.”